Enter the Pyrotechnic
Mo the magnificent stood at the front window of the WildRose tavern. Outside, Mother Nature was in full storm bloom pouring down rain as if the second Great flood was coming, and somewhere out there, a man in a long white beard was gathering two of each animal on the face of the earth. The weather outside was not fit for a sewer rat much less a human being, or Dirk Blackpool for that matter.
She sipped at the warm soup that she held in the big ceramic mug. Its flavorful brew soothed her insides, and warmed her all the way to her heart. She turned to look at her other friends, Anna, Kiri, Xena, and Galen. They like her, were stuck here in the tavern till the storm passed. They all sat at a long table not far from the roaring fire in the hearth that warmed the room quite comfortably.
Her friends sat quietly because at the bar were two of Blackpool's minions. They had come here to get out of the storm, but knowing that the tavern was neutral territory, they were content to sit out the rain, and be on their way as soon as it let up. But their presence gave the place an air of discomfort.
As Mo looked out the front window, she noticed someone was out in the rain.
Coming from the forest path, she could make out the figure of a horse and rider. He wore a long black cape and a tall wide brimmed hat sitting down over his face, which was indistinguishable, but at one point, she could make out a puff of smoke come from under the brim.
She watched as she saw the man slowly ride up to the front of the tavern, and look the place over for a moment before slowly climbing off the horse. He walked to the horse's head, and gently patted its forehead. Another puff of smoke appeared. Then the man looked up into the air before Mo noticed that the rain had stopped.
"Good, we're outa here." One of the soldiers at the bar said. They emptied their tankards and threw a few coins on the counter. Then they turned and went towards the door, one of them throwing a dirty snarl at Mo. She just smiled at them. They didn't realize whom they were dealing with.
As the soldiers walked out the door, they stopped when they saw the man standing by his horse. Mo looked out the window and watched the entire drama unfold.
The two soldiers stood by the front door staring at the man and his horse. The man had not stopped comforting the horse, but returned their gaze with intensity. He tilted his head up, and Mo could see his face for the first time, his long gaunt features, his cold steel blue eyes, and the short cigar clenched between his teeth, and she realized that she had seen this face before.
The soldiers stood frozen. Mo could see the expressions on their faces. It was fear. Cold, unnerving fear. One of the men swallowed nervously, and almost at the same time, the other slowly reached for his sword hilt when the man turned from his horse, and threw back his cape exposing his right shoulder. Under the cape, the man was dressed in black from head to toe. With the exception of a dark blue sash, and gray gauntlets. His tunic was covered with small pockets, and in each pocket was a small cylindrical object no bigger than a toothpick. Mo remembered that these items were compressed gunpowder with ground up pieces of flint. Grenades, she remembered him calling them. The man did not wear a sword, but in his sash was a long serpentine bladed dagger with a brass skull and crossbones at the hilt, and the handle.
The tension lasted a few seconds. Then the man spoke in a raspy half whisper. "Well... " He said, "...are you boys going to pull them kitchen knives or whistle Dixie?"
The two men glanced at each other for a second them pulled their swords. In a quick blinding move, the man pulled one of the small sticks from his tunic, and threw it at the men's feet. An explosion sent the men flying off their feet and landing backward in a mud puddle a few feet away, writhing in pain. Slowly the men turned over and got to their feet. They glanced at the man in black before they got to their feet, and hobbled away into the forest.
Mo was impressed. He hadn't lost his touch.
The man entered the tavern, and all eyes glanced at him. He walked to the counter and Kiri already had a warm mug of Mead ready for him. The man took the mug, and sipped it.
Mo walked up to him, and stood next to him. "Hey, I know you."
The man looked at Mo, but his face remained expressionless. Then he took another sip of mead.
"You're Coulter, am I right?" Mo asked. The man did not look at her as he reached into his tunic, and produced a cigar. He handed it to her, and his gravelly voice croaked.
Mo smiled as she slowly took the cigar from his gloved hand.
"I thought you had an accident?" Coulter put down the mug, looking straight ahead.
"I recovered" He took a long slow drag from the stogie, and looked at Mo, smiling wickedly.
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